CTA Renew Crew spruces up Addison Brown Line station

When the CTA announced in September that its Renew Crews would be “freshening up” 100 stations in the next year, it also promised to give reports on stations as they were completed.

In the last two-plus months, it has completed work at almost 20 stations. So they are working at a pretty good clip, finishing two a week. The Addison Brown Line station was completed in mid-November. These photos document the work. Here’s what was done:

  • Remove graffiti from flower boxes, platform canopy, and other surfaces
  • Repaint garbage cans, doors, stairs, and columns, as needed
  • Replace etched glass and install vandal shielding, as needed
  • Replace gutters as needed
  • Drain cleaning and improvements
  • Clean and paint doors and walls, as needed
  • Lighting improvements, replace bulbs in backlit signs
  • Repair and paint sandboxes
  • Replace platform deck boards and tactile edging, as needed
  • Minor concrete and masonry repairs, as needed
  • Replace signs, as needed
  • Clean windbreaks
  • Clean and repair gutters and roofs

This is nice work. But if a station that was built in 2007 can get this bad already, it tells me that this project probably will have to be repeated at least every couple of years.

(All photos by the CTA.)


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  • That first photo of the missing cover on the hose outlet was due to theft by someone who sold the brass or bronze cover for scrap metal.
    It probably cost at least $50 new.
    I'm sure he got less than a buck for it.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    The scrap collectors have thieves among them - they are destroying property and taking all removable metalwork in the NorthCenter area. Years ago the Water Dept finally got smart and started using a plastic composite for their covers after having given up on the transponder tags for the metal covers. CTA and other agencies should do the same. The crooks even have taken the iron tree grates up Lincoln Ave. I'm sure some sort of composite could be used there too. Maybe a brass color composite would be just as durable and not worth much to a rogue metal scrap person.

  • The first sentence of the last paragraph sort of sums it up. Also, with regard to phots 3 and 4, if all the the planking is bad, it looks like they only replaced segments and will have to come back.

    I suppose, though, that drains and gutters have to be cleaned more frequently than once every four years.

  • By the time they finish all the stations, they will probably have to start on the first ones again. They should just keep the renew crew going in perpetuity.

  • Some of these may be minor things, but I'm happy to see the CTA finally figured out that leaving too many of them undone amounts to sending messages that "we've forgotten that you and your station even exist" or "vandalism and wear & tear are your problems, not ours." Getting the fixes done--especially at one fell swoop--says "we're watching and we care." This increases perceived value to the rider and repairs the relationship, both good investments. Making it a regular, recurring project would be a good idea.

  • I'm sure other world-class transit systems that are spotless have probably a few "renew crews" working continuously and it is not a one-shot special project or initiative. For example, The Madrid Metro is clean, modern and in excellent repair. It carries probably at least double the ridership of the CTA train system. Although I do believe people there are more respectful of their fellow riders and don't trash the trains and stations with litter as much as here, the system must still get a tremendous amount of wear and tear. Yes, renewal work does make the system simply look better, but routine maintenance of stations lengthens the amount of time before the entire thing needs a multi-million dollar renovation. There is a large long-term cost savings of having an adequate maintenance budget versus no maintenance for decades until stations and tracks are literally ready to fall apart. The CTA slow zone epidemic is also the result of inadequate routine and ongoing maintenance. These budgets should never be cut no matter what, even if it results in fare increases. The alternative is a run-down, slow decrepit system that fall so far behind in repairs that it takes decades to even have a chance to get things back in good shape.

    I partially blame the Feds for having a capital funding program for new transit projects, but they foolishly eliminated the programs for ongoing maintenance and operations years ago. Healthy transit systems in our nation's cities contributes to the entire country's economic vitality for similar reasons why having the Interstate Highway system in good repair also does. So if the Interstates have federal repair and "operating" budgets, why is it such an issue to offer the same types of subsidies to transit??? It's time to stop calling mass transit systems a welfare or socialist un-American evil. As time marches on and as the country matures gains more population and the costs of owning/operating autos increases, it will be only a matter of time before we are forced to view the importance of highways and transit systems as equals.

  • They didn't 'foolishly eliminate programs for ongoing maintenance.' They knew what they were doing and did it to eliminate transit at some point in the future. All that gas isn't going to buy itself, you know.

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